NZ North Island braces for Cyclone Cook

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NZ North Island braces for Cyclone Cook

Just days into the recovery efforts from heavy rainfall and flooding resulting from the remnants of ex-Cyclone Debbie, New Zealand is bracing for another severe weather event.

Cyclone Cook has been heading south from New Caledonia and is expected to make landfall in Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty around 6pm on Thursday, with winds of up to 165kph (102mph).

The Ministry for Civil Defense and Emergency Management warned this was "an extremely serious weather event".

"Put safety first. Don’t take any chances," it said on Wednesday evening.

"We are expecting major impacts for Coromandel and the Western Bay of Plenty with hazardous driving conditions."

Thames, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty are all under states of emergency, as the country is being warned to prepare for damaging gales, enormous surges and widespread flooding.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson said on Wednesday: "The focus at this stage is on pumping water from orchards to enable harvest to take place and to limit the long-term damage to the plants.

"The increased chance of additional flooding from further rain would make this task more difficult."

Around 80% of the country’s kiwifruit production is based in the Bay of Plenty. The region experienced heavy rainfall and flooding at the start of the month, but industry representatives indicated there was unlikely to be a significant impact on the season.



Local media Stuff reported the cyclone made landfall on Thursday evening, with heavy rain and high winds caused chaos in the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay causing flooding, slips, fallen trees and downed power lines.

Power cuts hit throughout Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, the story said. Residents in low-lying coastal areas in the region had been urged to evacuate and many were bunkered down in the darkness at a nearby evacuation centre.

Insurance claims for Cyclone Cook could run into the tens of millions of dollars, Insurance Council New Zealand (ICNZ) reportedly said.

Kiwifruit harvesting had reportedly been halted around the country, NZ Herald reported on Thursday.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) CEO Nikki Johnson said the group would be monitoring the situation and would assess damages after the weather had cleared.

At 1.45am local time on Friday morning Civil Defense tweeted the cyclone was expected to pass over the capital Wellington in the next couple of hours and that it was weakening.


Image credit: NASA

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